fire of holiness and love

Friday, 3 November, 2017 - 9:07 am

 “I wanted to go back to the hotel and I saw a blood-red glow. The synagogues were burning – Bravo! Bravo! The synagogues were going up in flames like big old huts.” So wrote Yosef Goebbels in his diary on Thursday, the 16th of Cheshvan, 5699 (1938). That was, of course, the day after Kristallnacht, a night of a full moon between Wednesday and Thursday. The skies of Germany were lit up by the fires raging in the synagogues, synagogues burnt by the fire of hatred and murderous propensity of the Germans. The full moon looked pale in comparison with the flames, pale in comparison with the fire of the approaching Holocaust.

Tomorrow night is the night; tomorrow night is the night in the Jewish calendar on which we will remember what happened in Europe only seventy-nine years ago.

Goebbels together with millions of German citizens rejoiced and cheered in face of the horrors. They thought they could get rid of the Jews forever, and thus solve the Jewish Problem. But we are here; we always were here. Ever since Avraham Ha’Ivri stood alone in front of everyone and didn’t surrender, thus giving all of us the strength never to surrender, never to give in.

We suffered, we were humiliated, beaten and almost destroyed – but only almost, because the winner is the one who remains, the one who is still on his feet at the end of the rounds. We, today, stand on our feet! There are at least one hundred and twenty active synagogues in Germany alone today, and hundreds more throughout Europe, which was almost declared Judenrein. We stand on our feet, but of course that is not enough. These synagogues that are everywhere throughout the world, and in Europe in particular, are not full. They were full, but they were emptied by murderous force and the flames of hatred. When we stand on the Shabbat before Kristallnacht, the 16th of Cheshvan 5778, when we come to remember the 16th of Cheshvan 5699, it is not enough to stand with a candle and sing a sad song; we must refill the synagogues.

The synagogues await us. Let’s ignite in them a spiritual fire of holiness and love, a fire that will be like water that extinguishes the fire of hatred and spiritual impurity.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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